A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 195 - 2/15/05

Stanley Leach Big-scaled Balsamroot Todd Whigham Great Plains toad desert wildflower

- Wildflowers! Online photo album, links to wildflower information, wildflower word search, and more
- History and natural history on public lands: Desert training camps, dinosaurs, geology field trips, book
- Headlines and highlights, including: wild horses and burros, public lands debate, BLM California jobs, fire truck donation
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Special status plant of the week
- Our readers write: Nick the rat?
- Meet your advisory council members: Stanley Leach
- Profile: Todd Whigham
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: sage grouse, rights-of-way, wilderness areas, oil and gas fees
- Selected upcoming events


a bloom in the desertPHOTO ALBUM FEATURE: "Wildflowers in Bloom"
Springtime brings carpets of colorful spring blooms to large areas of California. Many of these areas are relatively unknown, visited by only a select few during the peak of color. The wildflower season generally starts with an early spring in the desert regions of southern California, and works its way northward. When the wildflower seasons occur, and how lush they are, depends on the weather and can vary widely from year to year - many desert areas are reporting above-normal blooms this year! The window of opportunity is short, so be sure to obtain the latest information from the BLM California Field Office that manages the area you want to visit.

a wildflower from BLM California's online photo album"Wildflowers" (BLM California website)
Includes links to several BLM California field office web pages, with information and/or photos of wildflowers on public lands they manage.

"Peak blooming periods for California desert wildflowers" (BLM California website)
This is an unusually good year for desert wildflowers, with heavier than usual winter rains. This chart gives the most-common periods each year for peak blooms, in different areas of the California desert.
PDF file, 65 kilobytes:

"Wildflower season 2005" (BLM Needles Field Office website)
Updated with recent photos from public lands managed by BLM's Needles Field Office.

BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "Wildflowers of the Sierra Nevada & Central Valley"
"320 Species of Wildflowers: through pages 20-281 are fully-colored illustrations of hundreds of beautiful flowers. 17 families color coded for easy identification. Organized by elevation from the Central Valley up to the High Sierra. On pages 5-19 is a photo guide to all the flowers which is sorted by elevation, flower color, and petal number."

wildflower search words"Wildflower search" (BLM California website)
Word search puzzle: print out this Web page and find as many of the 26 wildflower names as you can. If you need a little help - this page includes a link to the solution.

"Wildflower hotline" (Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants)
Operates March though May, with information updated every week on 90 wildflower viewing sites throughout southern California.

"Wildflower site links" (Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants)
"Will feature expanded weekly reports covering the entire State of California. The site provides Web links to dozens of flower-watching destinations and lists both the common and botanical name of each flower mentioned, and where and when it is blooming." (according to last year's information.)

"Desert wildflower watch" (DesertUSA website)
Parks and desert areas reports and photos from readers - for Anza-Borrego, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Mojave Preserve, and Southern California.

ALSO see wildflower-related items under "Selected Upcoming Events" below.


"Monument honors battalion's fallen" (San Bernardino County Sun,
"GIs called it hell on earth, the end of the world. But Army Gen. George S. Patton Jr., whose sobriquet was 'Old Blood and Guts,' envisioned the inhospitable scorpion-infested desert lands of Southern California and Arizona as 'an ideal place' to condition and train troops for desert combat in World War II....Now the U.S. Bureau of Land Management
oversees public lands where the camps were established. The ravages of time have left few structures...." A two-day ceremony will commemorated "soldiers who trained in the California-Arizona Maneuver Area, as the sprawling training center was later called.",1413,208%257E12588%257E2707008,00.html

"In the footprints of dinosaurs" (North County Times, 2/14/2005)
"In a remote northeastern corner of the Mojave Desert lie slabs of sandstone embedded with the footprints of dinosaurs that walked there some 200 million years ago. Dating from the Jurassic period, they are the only known dinosaur tracks in California....Though the trackways in the Mojave have not been preserved per se, the Bureau of Land Management regularly patrols the area containing where they have been found."

"Geology and Mining History Field Trips" (BLM California Bakersfield Field Office web pages)
The BLM and Buena Vista Museum of Natural History initiated a program of earth science field trips to points of mineralogic, geologic, paleontologic and historic interest throughout central California. These trips are designed for persons of high school age and older. It is not necessary to have a technical background to attend or benefit from the trips. These field trips are recommended for teachers and many of them can be taken for in service continuing education credit through California State University Bakersfield.

Bookstore Feature: "Field Guide To Geology"BOOKSTORE FEATURE: "Field Guide To Geology"
"An excellent basic reference on geology. This book provides hundreds of illustrations, clearly labeled diagrams, and maps to help readers grasp important concepts. This is an up-to-date guide for all ages, from the inquiring 11-year-old to the budding scientist."


"Lines drawn in the desert" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/11/2005)
"California is on the verge of designating more than 55,000 acres in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park as wilderness, a proposal that once again pits conservationists against off-roaders for control of public land." And: "'The shrill tone of the debate is part of a broader social shift toward winner-take-all politics,'" says one observer....Public-land policy resonates across the West, particularly on the hundreds of millions of acres managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management."

"Untamed hearts" (Bakersfield Californian, 2/12/2005)
"Sheryl Greenhouse became the mother of four on Saturday, and is expecting her fifth any day now....She selected her first adoptees -- two horses, one of which is pregnant, and two burros -- from about 400 wild mustangs and burros available from the Bureau of Land Management in Ridgecrest. The BLM's annual open adoption day came with an enticing deal: a $125 adoption fee and free delivery within 150 miles."
(Free registration required.)

Related: "Wild horses and burros up for adoption in Tulare" (BLM California news release, 12/14/2005)
Wild horses and burros from northern California and Nevada rangelands will be available to the public Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and 13 in Tulare. The adoption event will run in conjunction with the annual Rendezvous of the Back Country Horsemen of California.

"Washington Gets Fire Truck from BLM" YubaNet, 2/10/2005)
"The Volunteer Fire Department in the town of Washington now has an operating emergency vehicle that can be used for quick response to medical emergencies, rescues, and small wildfires. On February 8, the Bureau of Land Management's Folsom Field Office, through the agency's Rural Fire Assistance Program, was able to present Fire Chief Mike Stewart of Washington with a 1995 Quick Response Unit equipped with a 200 gallon water tank, a pump, fire hose, a foam unit, and other items."

Related: "New firetruck in Washington" (The Union, 2/11/2005)
"When the Washington Volunteer Fire Department arose from the ashes of a heated political squabble last year, one thing remained: the need for new equipment.....Earlier this week, BLM presented new Washington Fire Chief Mike Stewart with a used vehicle that can be driven for rescues, small fires and medical emergencies."

"Juniper management getting into reality" (Modoc Record, 2/10/2005)
"After many fits and false starts, practical juniper control to promote a healthy ecosystem in the high desert areas of northeastern California and northwestern Nevada may be just around the corner, thanks to new emphasis on cooperation between federal agencies, local officials and the private sector. Juniper control, once a back-burner issue, has come
to the forefront in light of new developments and directives within the Department of Agriculture, the parent agency for the Forest Service and the Interior Department, parent agency for the Bureau of Land Management."

Related: "Western juniper management strategy" (BLM California, Alturas
Field Office website)
'It is estimated that western juniper currently occupies approximately 2.5 million acres of rangeland in northeastern California. This constitutes a ten-fold expansion of juniper range over the past 130 years. Rangeland health, productivity and diversity are now at serious risk due to juniper encroachment. At the same time, independent energy producers have found western juniper to be a desirable source of biomass fuel."

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include land surveyor positions, fire mitigation and education specialists, and lead range technician.

"BLM Reduces Mining Claim Location and Annual Maintenance Fees" (BLM California news release, 12/15/2005)
All mining claims or sites that were recorded with BLM on or after December 8, 2004 must pay a location fee of $25 and a maintenance fee of $100, until further notice. All mining claims or sites that were recorded with BLM prior to December 8, 2004 must pay a location fee of $30 and a maintenance fee of $125.

"State offers wealth of outdoor attractions" (Stockton Record, 2/13/2005)
"If calls to tourism agencies and stops at welcome centers are reliable indicators, it appears Californians are planning to stay closer to home in 2005 and take advantage of the state's wealth of outdoors attractions....You can spend a lifetime snooping around the Mother Lode, exploring the old mining towns or hiking the hundreds of trails that serpentine through publicly owned National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and state-owned property."

Great Plains toad

What triggers the breeding season of the Great Plains Toads? Take your best guess - or apply your extensive knowledge of wildlife - in our online interactive quiz:

If you missed last week's online quiz, it's not too late to guess:

Big-scaled BalsamrootSPECIAL STATUS PLANT OF THE WEEK: Big-scaled Balsamroot
Its habitat ranges from meadows to rock outcrops and grasslands to conifer stands, as well as on serpentine soils from approx. 100 to 3000 feet in elevation.

OUR READERS WRITE: Nick the rat?

"I was shocked that so few people knew the nickname of the Bushy tailed wood rat. But I think it is an age thing. Old codgers like me remember the 50’s westerns where pack rats were always stealing watches and rings. I even recall mysteries that hinged on the discovery of a wood rat nest.
"But all of this raises a question. Can 'pack rat' be 'the nickname,' when the majority of the people don’t know it? At what point does it morph into an anachronism? I will leave that to wiser heads.
Thanks for the trivia. It is sometimes the highlight of my work week."
- Steve B.

Stanley Leach represents Timber interests on BLM's Northwestern California Resource Advisory Council. Read more:

Todd WhighamPROFILE: Todd Whigham
Todd is a new fire engineer stationed at the West Valley Fire Station out of the Alturas Field Office. He came to the Bureau of Land Management with over ten years experience in the firefighting world. Read more in this week's News.bytes Profile:


"BLM director says sage grouse decision a new beginning" (Associated
Press in North County Times, 2/12/2005)
"The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is updating state management plans to emphasize concern for greater sage grouse and its habitat across the West, but efforts by local working groups remain key to the bird's survival, BLM Director Kathleen Clarke said Saturday. 'It takes more than rules and regulations to restore habitats,' Clarke said. 'One size does not fit all.'"

"Road suit may define claims on feds' land" (Salt Lake Tribune,
"When is a highway a highway? What does the word 'construction" mean, exactly? And how much jurisdiction does the Bureau of Land 'Management have over backcountry roads on federal land that have been claimed by states and counties?" A case being heard in Salt Lake City "will determine whether Western states and counties can claim ownership of trails and roads across millions of acres of federal lands, including national parks, or if the federal government retains control and can continue to impose restrictions on use."

"Utah wilderness appeal rejected" (Los Angeles Times, 2/11/2005)
"A federal appeals court in Denver has dismissed, on technical grounds, an appeal filed by environmental groups challenging the legality of a settlement between Utah and the U.S. Interior Department that nullified wilderness protection for millions of acres and limited the ability of the Interior Department to protect other areas in the future. The
ruling means that the case will go back to the same federal district court judge who approved the settlement. In his court, the environmental groups can raise the challenges to the settlement that they hoped the appeals court would consider.",1,3402434.story

"BLM budget included increased user fees" (Oil and Gas Journal,
"Oil and gas producers would pay $10.8 million in user fees, including $9 million in permit processing charges, under the Bureau of Land Management's proposed fiscal 2006 budget. The fees would more than offset a slightly reduced appropriation and allow the Interior Department agency to increase the budget for its energy and minerals programs by $9.1 million to $117.6 million."

(Note: the Upcoming Events database is on a secure Web server, and your browser may state "You are about to view pages over a secure connection" and ask you to "Trust a Security Certificate" from the Department of Interior that hosts this site. To view the pages, you must select "Yes" or "OK" for both questions.)

02/26/2005 - Geology Field Trip: Cerro Gordo

02/16/2005 - Folsom Resource Management Plan Public Meeting

02/19/2005 - Bald Eagle Hike

02/19/2005 - Piedras Blancas Light Station Tour
San Simeon

02/24/2005 - Folsom Resource Management Plan Public Meeting

02/24/2005 - Desert Wildflowers
North Palm Springs

02/26/2005 - Riparian Restoration, Cosumnes River Preserve

02/27/2005 - W equals Wildflowers
Palm Desert

03/01/2005 - Northeast Resource Advisory Council

03/05/2005 - W equals Wildflowers
Palm Desert

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
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(916) 978-4600

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